Beautiful landscape, delicious food, towns bursting with character, and a rich tapestry of history and culture - what more could you want from a holiday?...
Italy was at the heart of the European Renaissance some 800 years ago, and today the culture and achievements of the country and its friendly people continue to impress the world. Art, opera and - of course - food, attract today's tourists. From rustic classics such as pasta and pizza, to fine world-leading haute cuisine, Italy's food is loved the world over.
Italy is also important as the historical centre of the mighty Roman Empire, though its history extends way beyond what the Romans did. No holiday in Italy should be complete without delving at least a tiny way into the country's fascinating past.
Spring and autumn are pleasant times to visit Italy. August can be stiflingly hot and many Italians holiday during this month, which means some businesses shut entirely in the big cities.
Flights to Italy land at airports up and down this beautiful Mediterranean land. Find out which airport you need to head for to start your Italian adventure...
The magnificent city of Rome is one of the most popular destinations for visitors to Italy. The two airports serving the city are Rome Ciampino (CIA) and Leonardo da Vinci - Fiumicino (FCO). History buffs will be in seventh heaven in the City of Seven Hills.
Another popular Italian airport is Pisa (PSA). The city, which is famed for its leaning tower, acts as a gateway to the rolling vineyards and hilltop towns of gorgeous Tuscany.
In northern Italy, droves of visitors arrive in Milan for shopping, food and architecture. The city has three airports - Milan Malpensa (MXP), Milan Linate (LIN), and Milan Bergamo (BGY).
Turin Airport (TRN) is a gateway to the stunning beauty of the Italian Alps and the mighty Dolomites, while Verona (VRN) is the best airport to fly into for holidays in the Italian Lakes, also in the north. Lake Como and Lake Garda are two of the best-known lakeside holiday hotspots.
Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE) and Venice Treviso Airport (TSF) serve the northeast city of Venice, with its canals, gondolas, and the remarkable St Mark's Square.
Also in the north of Italy, though moving south towards the upper leg of the famous “boot” of the country, are the airports of Bologna (BLQ), Genoa (GOA), and Florence (FLR).
Tiptoeing further down the famous boot you'll find the wonderful city of Rome, while further south is Naples Airport (NAP), which delivers visitors into the city of Naples (the home of pizza), the eerie ancient city of Pompeii, plus the glorious Amalfi Coast.
Off the mainland, most international flights arrive at Olbia (OLB) on the island of Sardinia, and Palermo (PMO) and Catania (CTA) on Sicily. The island of Elba, off the coast of Tuscany and Italy's third largest island, cannot be reached direct from the UK, though an airport does welcome flights from Italy and other European destinations.
Wherever you choose to take your break in Italy, flights should be a priority. Peak season is during the summer months, though flights during winter into the skiing areas around the Italian Alps will obviously cost more due to high demand.
Your Italian adventure will begin just as soon as your plane touches down, but first you need to find your way from the airport...
Those landing in to Pisa Airport (Pisa Galileo Galilei International) will be a mere 1km drive from the city centre, allowing you to get straight into the heart of the action. A bus service is available from the airport to Pisa Central Railway Station, and from here you can get to any location on the Italian railway network. Alternatively, you can opt for a taxi, bus or train to reach other parts of the city, but car hire could be your best option if you're looking to explore further afield in areas such as Tuscany.
If you are landing in the Eternal City of Rome, you will have a variety of options for your onward travel. The convenient Leonardo Express is a direct train from the airport to the city centre that operates every 30 minutes, and takes just half an hour. There is also the option to get the Terravision shuttle bus which runs to a central station in Rome (Rome Termini) and takes 70 minutes.
Marco Polo Airport in Venice has good public transport links and you can get to Venice city centre by bus, or alternatively by water bus for the real Venetian experience. The water buses that operate from the airport run three routes directly to and from the airport.
If Naples is your destination, you can take a bus from the airport which has two stops - Stazione Centrale and Piazza Municipio near the ferry port. You can also get a bus to Naples Central Railway Station which departs from just outside the arrivals area.
Those landing in Verona Airport will be able to choose from a variety of options. Bus stops are located outside the arrivals terminal and these buses also travel to Verona Central Railway Station. Those wanting a door-to-door transfer can opt for a taxi, or if you're looking for the freedom to explore you may wish to consider car hire.
Part of this beautiful country's charm is its great diversity of locations, whether you want historic cities, stunning landscapes, coastal resorts or mountainous terrain...
If you're heading off on an Italian city break, you will find a variety of accommodation options, from family run B&Bs to large brand hotels.
The floating city of Venice is the destination to head to if you're looking for a historical and unique city experience. Be enchanted as gondolas float by and feel inspired by the stunning architecture in areas such as St Mark's Square and the city's network of canals and beautiful bridges.
Rome is a sight to behold with its ancient heritage and if you're planning on a sightseeing break you may want to book your accommodation within walking distance of all the main highlights such as the Vatican, Coliseum and Pantheon.
Swanky Milan is a shopper's paradise with high-end designer names littering the streets and the fantastic Duomo taking centre stage for those looking for cultural attractions. Here you can expect to find very exclusive hotels along with mid-priced three and four-star accommodation.
Those looking for a room with a view may want to opt for one of Italy's stunning scenic areas. The Amalfi Coast, for example, is breath-taking with its rugged coastline and numerous tiny villages such as Ravello and Amalfi. Accommodation along here can be pricey, but there are also budget options available if you are organised and do your research in advance.
From the Amalfi Coast you are not too far from Sorrento, a popular option with tourists due to its easy access to some of the main sights of the area such as Mount Vesuvius, eerie Pompeii and the islands of Capri and Ischia. The bustling city of Naples is also a straightforward day trip from here, and boasts an impressive array of galleries, museums and churches. Be sure to sample a slice of delicious pizza in its birthplace!
While most of Italy is renowned for its gastronomical delights, foodies will be delighted with Tuscany, where the fresh ingredients and wonderful wine match the splendour of the surrounding countryside. With its rolling patchwork fields and sprinkling of medieval villages such as San Gimignano and Siena, you won't fail to be enchanted. From here you can also easily reach the beautiful renaissance city of Florence, with its stunning architecture and numerous galleries housing masterpieces of the greats.
If you're looking for a lakeside holiday, Lake Garda has a variety of options, from wild and beautiful spots like Malcesine in the North to child-friendly resorts in the South such as Lazise and Bardolino. From here, day trips to Venice and Verona are possible, but there is so much to see and do it's unlikely you'll want to leave your lakeside retreat! Again, here you will find a variety of accommodation options to suit all budgets.